MADISON – From northern pike spawning grounds to storing rabbit
manure, the work of conservation professionals in Wisconsin is nothing if not
diverse, and that diversity is the theme underlying the new edition of Wisconsin's
Land and Water Annual Progress Report
Wisconsin: Strength in Differences, an essay introducing the report, says,
“There are no off-the-shelf answers to conservation questions in Wisconsin.”
The report was presented to the Land and Water Conservation Board at its August
5 meeting and is now available online.
Conservation efforts in Wisconsin are a cooperative effort
involving the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer
Protection; Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; the U.S. Department of
Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, county land conservation
departments and committees, among others. The report features success stories
that focus on projects outside the usual scope of protecting the state’s
cropland and waters from soil erosion and manure runoff, as well as thumbnail
sketches of more traditional conservation projects undertaken to help farmers
address on-farm runoff management challenges in Clark, Eau Claire, Marathon, Manitowoc, Oconto, Pierce, Racine, Shawano and Taylor counties. It
also includes tables tallying the many conservation practices undertaken by the
agencies along with county conservation departments and landowners.
Success stories featured in the report:
Monroe County – Randy
Nierling raises rabbits in a converted dairy barn. He has 5,000 rabbits
producing as much manure as 25 dairy cows, and there was a risk of it finding
its way to Lemonweir Creek. Nierling worked with the Monroe County Land
Conservation Department and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service to
build manure storage space and develop a nutrient management plan for the
manure, reducing odors and protecting the creek.
Brown and Oconto
counties – A project initiated by the Brown County Land and Water
Conservation Department aims to return to the days when the annual northern
pike spawning was a spectator sport for people in the Green Bay area. Today,
loss of spawning habitat has largely eliminated the annual pike spawning run.
The department, together with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and
Oconto County, are working with landowners, farmers and local contractors to
return wetlands connected to Green Bay to their former status as prime spawning
habitat. Along the way, many other government agencies and non-profits,
including the Green Bay Packers, have joined the effort. This year, monitors
counted 30,000 migrating young northern where only 300 were counted previously.
Chippewa County – Good
water makes good beer, so the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company co-sponsored a
five-year pilot project with the Chippewa County Land Conservation Committee to
reduce phosphorus in Little Lake Wissota, making the lake good for swimming and
fishing once again. Many local businesses and organizations chipped in to
augment funding from state and federal agencies.
Milwaukee County – The
environmental group 1000 Friends of Wisconsin approached the Milwaukee
Metropolitan Sewerage District and the Milwaukee County Environmental Services
Unit with a proposal to remove barriers to green infrastructure – public
infrastructure that works with nature rather than against it. The upshot of the
project was a finding that regulations and engineering codes were among the
barriers, so a number of codes and ordinances were changed. Besides the city of
Milwaukee, many of its suburbs also adopted the new ordinance language.